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Massive Port Renfrew tree stumps raise logging suspicions

Giant red cedars logged while ecotourism promoted

Judith Lavoie, Vancouver Sun, May 14, 2010

Massive Port Renfrew tree stumps raise logging suspicions
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A gigantic old-growth redcedar stump found just over 1km away from the Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew, BC.
Photo by TJ Watt

Massive stumps found on Crown land near Port Renfrew are arousing fears that logging companies are taking the biggest and best old-growth trees even though the local chamber of commerce wants to promote giant tree tourism.

The old-growth red cedar stumps were cut recently and measure between 3.7 and 4.6 metres. They were found in the Gordon River Valley, near a huge stand of old-growth trees nicknamed Avatar Grove by members of the Ancient Forest Alliance.

"People need to understand the urgency of the situation," said Ken Wu, Alliance co-founder.

"Most of our remaining old-growth forests will not survive the B.C. Liberal government's current policy of ancient forest liquidation. These globally rare ancient forests are being turned into a sea of giant stumps and tree plantations," he said.

John Cash, Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce president, said it is disappointing that old-growth logging is accelerating just as the Pacific Marine Circle Route is being promoted as a scenic tourist attraction.

"Even on that road they didn't allow a buffer, so it's clearcut right up to the edge of the road. I get comments about it all the time," he said.

Tourists want to see big trees and Port Renfrew has some of the biggest, Cash said.

"But it's like open warfare here. They are sacrificing short-term monetary benefit for the logging companies to the long-term detriment of the community," he said.

"If the forest companies had been responsible to begin with and had done their planting and management properly, there would be no need to cut down old-growth forests."

The largest stumps found by the alliance were on land being logged by Surrey-based Teal-Jones Group.

Teal-Jones spokesman John Pichugin did not return calls Thursday.

Forests Minister Pat Bell said that on Vancouver Island 900,000 hectares of the 1.9 million hectares of Crown land is old-growth.

"There is no shortage of old-growth on Vancouver Island. It represents a significant part of the Island," Bell said.

Vancouver Island also has 438,000 hectares in protected areas and parks, many of which include old-growth forests and, in the area around Port Renfrew, 19,000 hectares are protected in old-growth management areas, he said.

"I think there's a good balance there already, but it is always worth looking at specific sites," he said.

The alliance is asking government to inventory and protect old-growth forests where they are scarce and to ensure sustainable logging of second-growth forests.

However, Bell said forest companies are already shifting to second growth.

Meanwhile, the alliance is launching a new Facebook group, Canada's biggest stumps, where members can compete to upload photos of the largest tree stumps they have found.

"With relatively few eyes and ears out there monitoring what is going on in our forests, photo expeditions and competitions like this will help to show the public what serious environmental destruction is happening just down the backroads of the land they call homes," said AFA co-founder TJ Watt.

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